Managing vCenter Server Settings

To make it easier for vSphere administrators to be able to find and change the settings that affect the behavior or operation of vCenter Server, VMware centralized these settings into a single area within the vSphere Client user interface. This single area, found on the Administration menu in vCenter Server, allows for post-installation configuration of vCenter Server. In fact, it even contains configuration options that are not provided during installation. The Administration menu contains the following items:

• Custom Attributes

• vCenter Server Settings

• Role

• Session

• Edit Message Of The Day

• Export System Logs

Of these commands on the Administration menu, the Custom Attributes commands and the vCenter Server Settings are particularly important, so I'll review those two areas first. I'll start with Custom Attributes.

Custom Attributes

The Custom Attributes option lets you define custom identification or information options for virtual machines, hosts, or both (global). This is a pretty generic definition; perhaps a more concrete example will help. Say that you want to add metadata to each virtual machine to identify whether it is an application server, an infrastructure server (that is, DHCP server, DNS server), or a domain controller.

To accomplish this task, you could add a custom virtual machine attribute named VMRole. To add this custom attribute, select Administration -^Attributes. This opens the Custom Attributes dialog box, and from there you can click Add to create a new custom attribute. You can create a custom attribute that is global in nature or that applies only to ESX/ESXi hosts or virtual machines. After you've created this VMRole custom attribute, you can edit the attribute data on the Summary tab of the object. After the custom attribute is added, it appears in the Annotations section of the object. You can use the Edit button to open the Custom Attributes window and add the required metadata.

With the metadata clearly defined for various objects, you can then search based on that data. Using custom attributes to build metadata around your ESX/ESXi hosts and virtual machines is quite powerful, and the integration with the vSphere Client's search functionality makes managing very large inventories much more manageable.

But the Administration menu is about more than just custom attributes and metadata, it's also about configuring vCenter Server itself. The vCenter Server Settings command on the Administration menu gives you access to change the settings that control how vCenter Server operates, as you'll see in the next section.

vCenter Server Settings

The vCenter Server Settings dialog box contains 13 vCenter Server settings:

• Licensing

• Statistics

• Runtime Settings

• Active Directory

• Mail

• Web Service

• Timeout Settings

• Logging Options

• Database

• Database Retention Policy

• SSL Settings

• Advanced Settings

Each of these settings controls a specific area of interaction or operation for vCenter Server.


The Licensing configuration page of the vCenter Server Settings dialog box, provides the parameters for how vCenter Server is licensed. The options include using an evaluation mode or applying a license key to this instance of vCenter Server. If this vCenter Server instance will also manage ESX 3.x hosts, then this dialog box provides an option for specifying the license server those hosts should use.

When an evaluation of vSphere and vCenter Server is no longer required and the appropriate licenses have been purchased, you must deselect the evaluation option and add a license key.


The Statistics page, offers the ability to configure the collection intervals and the system resources for accumulating statistical performance data in vCenter Server. In addition, it also provides a database-sizing calculator that can estimate the size of a vCenter Server database based upon the configuration of statistics intervals. By default, the following four collection intervals are available:

• Past day: 5 minutes per sample at statistics level 1

• Past week: 30 minutes per sample at statistics level 1

• Past month: 2 hour per sample at statistics level 1

• Past year: 1 day per sample at statistics level 1

By selecting an interval from the list and clicking the Edit button, you can customize the interval configuration. You can set the interval, how long to keep the sample, and what statistics level (Level l through Level 4) vCenter Server will use.

The Statistics Collection level offers the following four collection levels defined in the user interface:

Level 1

Basic metrics for average usage of CPU, Memory, Disk, and Network. It also includes data about system uptime, system heartbeat, and DRS metrics. Statistics for devices are not included.

Level 2

Includes all the average, summation, and rollup metrics for CPU, Memory, Disk, and Network. It also includes system uptime, system heartbeat, and DRS metrics. Maximum and minimum rollup types as well as statistics for devices are not included.

Level 3

Includes all metrics for all counter groups, including devices, except for minimum and maximum rollups. Maximum and minimum rollup types are not included.


Includes all metrics supported by vCenter Server.

Runtime Settings

The Runtime Settings area lets you configure the vCenter Server Unique ID, the IP address used by vCenter Server, and the server name of the computer running vCenter Server. The unique ID will be populated by default, and changing it requires a restart of the vCenter Server service. These settings would normally require changing only when running multiple vCenter Server instances in the same environment. It is possible conflicts might exist if not altered.

Active Directory

This page includes the ability to set the Active Directory timeout value, a limit for the number of users and groups returned in a query against the Active Directory database, and the validation period (in minutes) for synchronizing users and groups used by vCenter Server.


The Mail page might be the most commonly customized page because its configuration is crucial to the sending of alarm results. The mail SMTP server name or IP address and the sender account will determine the server and the account from which alarm results will be sent.


The SNMP configuration page is where you would configure vCenter Server for integration with a Systems Network Management Protocol (SNMP) management system. The receiver URL should be the name or IP address of the server with the appropriate SNMP trap receiver. The SNMP port, if not configured away from the default, should be set at 162, and the community string should be configured appropriately (public is the default). vCenter Server supports up to four receiver URLs.

Web Service

The Web Service page is used to configure the HTTP and HTTPS ports used by the vCenter Server Web Access feature.

Timeout Settings This area, the Timeout Settings area, is where you configure client connection timeouts. The settings by default allow for a 3D-second timeout for normal operations or 120 minutes for long operations.

Logging Options

The Logging Options page, shown in Figure 3.25, customizes the level of detail accumulated in vCenter Server logs. The logging options include the following:

• None (Disable logging)

• Errors (Errors only)

• Warning (Errors and warnings)

• Information (Normal logging)

• Verbose (Verbose)

• Trivia (Trivia)

By default, vCenter Server stores its logs at C: Documents and SettingsAll UsersApplication DataVMwareVMware vi rtua1CenterLogs.


The Database page lets you configure the maximum number of connections to the backend database.

Database Retention Policy

To limit the growth of the vCenter Server database, you can configure a retention policy. vCenter Server offers options for limiting the length of time that both tasks and events are retained in the back-end database.

SSL Settings

This page includes the ability to configure a certificate validity check between vCenter Server and the vSphere Client. If enabled, both systems will check the trust of the SSL certificate presented by the remote host when performing tasks such as adding a host to inventory or establishing a remote console to a virtual machine.

Advanced Settings

The Advanced Settings page provides for an extensible configuration interface.


After the vCenter Server Settings command on the Administration menu is the Roles command. The Roles option from the Administration menu is available only when the view is set to Administration and the Roles tab is selected. This menu works like a right-click context menu that offers the ability to add, edit, rename, or remove roles based on what object is selected.


The Sessions menu option is available only when the view is set to Administration ~ Sessions. The Sessions view allows for terminating all sessions and editing the text that makes up the message of the day (MOTD). The currently used session identified by the status "This Session" cannot be terminated.

Edit Message of the day

As the name suggests, this menu item allows for editing the MOTD. The MOTD is displayed to users each time they log in to vCenter Server. This provides an excellent means of distributing information regarding maintenance schedules or other important information.